Textbooks a costly investment for students

Sheridan students buying their textbooks for the semester. Prices vary from $7 to $230.

Sheridan students buying their textbooks for the semester. Prices vary from $7 to $230.


How much did you pay for textbooks this semester? Chances are it was a lot.

If Computer Organization & Architecture, 9th edition is one of your required course materials, you’re looking at a $230.75 bill for a new copy at the Sheridan bookstore.

Or $173.25 for a used one.

The same book is available on Amazon.ca for $135 new, or $132.12 used.

You could buy an older edition for $5 used ($38.03 new).

But your instructor told you to get the newest copy. Why?

Sheridan instructor Andrew Mitrovica doesn’t think it’s “absolutely necessary” to buy the latest edition of your textbook.

When the authors added a new chapter to Digging Deeper (the textbook he recommends for his first-year Journalism course Research Techniques), Mitrovica was skeptical.

“I’m sure it was worthwhile, but it wasn’t absolutely essential to the book. And then they repackage the book and sell it as a second or third edition when the first edition is usually fine. You can get the gist of it,” he said.

He informally tells students to consider their options before going out and buying a new copy of their textbooks.

Renting, buying used, shopping online, or ebooks are good alternatives, he said.

“I think this is something that should be taken up and I will certainly be raising this (issue) at College Council… I think there needs to be more publicity about the options that are available to students,” he said.

The Sheridan library doesn’t have textbooks for every program “because they’re expensive,” said Madeleine Crew, a library technician.

But if it doesn’t have the textbook you need she will usually “direct (students) to the bookstore to see if they can rent a textbook. I also recommend looking for any used textbooks. Posted around the school sometimes there are students willing to sell their old textbooks.” She said students can also check out Amazon or Chapters.

Or you could check out their online database here.

Renting your textbook is one option to save money.

At the Sheridan bookstore, “there are certain textbooks that can be rented, (but) not every textbook. They’re rented for the semester and you usually save about 50 per cent of the cost of the textbook,” said bookstore textbook manager Shannyn Mara.

You can sell your textbook back to the bookstore as long as it’s in resaleable condition.

“If they’re being used in the store for the following semester we’ll give you 50 per cent for it.”

The bookstore doesn’t direct students to alternate sellers. “We try to figure out an option for them,” Mara said. “If we don’t have what they need I’ll try to find it from somewhere.”

She can also use the computer to search for the books at other stores within their affiliation (Follett).

Mitrovica thinks the college needs “to gather that information and we need to provide it to students in an accessible, clear platform on our website.”

He says ebooks are another option for buying your textbook.

Sheridan College Council’s next monthly meeting is Sept. 19.